The History of Tea

The History of Tea

For the Love of Tea.

I like the story that I have read in books and articles on the internet, about a man drinking his cup of boiled water, when some leaves from a nearby tree fall  into his  cup changing  the colour of the liquid. Such an incidental  event,  that changed the world and created a beverage that is second only to water and  so began the journey of tea which  we enjoy and drink today.

This event,  according to legend dates back to 2700BC and the man?  Emperor, Shen Nung. The tea tree or plant is called, Camellia Sinensis. The Emperor felt restored after drinking the tea and  it became, initially used for its medicinal qualities and then enjoyed just for the pleasure of the brew.

China  enjoyed  their tea for centuries, prior to the West knowing anything about this delicious drink.  During  the Tang Dynasty ( 618-906 Ad). Tea became established as the traditional drink of the Chinese.

It followed, that it became a part of the Japanese culture, after it was according to history, introduced by travelling Japanese Buddhists monks studying in China.

Well there you are and Europe lagged well behind. The Portuguese, were bringing tea home through their missionaries and traders, but the Dutch, were the ones to really start commercially importing this wonderful brew.

And to England!

What brought it to England?   Well,  in the reign of Charles, the Second,  (I have researched a little more and he was a much loved and popular King and though he had no legitimate children  of his own with his wife Catherine Braganza, he had many illiigiitmate children, many that he recognised as  his own) . He was known as the ‘Merry Monarch’.

His new wife, Princess Braganza, from Portugal,  loved tea!. She arrived with a trunk of it and so it became very fashionable,  in the 1660’s,  to drink a brew of tea!

Mmm… cup of tea

Once countries across the world became aware of this precious commodity, there followed much intrigue and clandestine activities in the desperation of countries across the globe wishing to obtain the seeds and the plants and the tea itself, for themselves and their countries.

Tea was much sort after, people became rich from the earnings of ‘the tea’, but only the rich could afford to sip  this special brew, so it became a symbol of wealth and prestige and privilege.

There were excessively high taxes on the import of tea and of course there ensued a huge industry in smuggling tea, which went on for decades until the tea tax was virtually abolished, making tea  an affordable drink for all.

There are many plantations across the world now, after China,  Japan,  India, Ceylon now known as Sri Lanka,  and followed by,  although perhaps not in numerical order, Indonesia, Kenya, Australia  forgive me,  so many more!

Because  of the diverse regions that are now growing  this beautiful shrub/tree, we  enjoy  a great range, in  depth and  in flavour in  the world of teas.

China: is the largest producer of green and black tea.

Green Tea

India: examples of her tea, Assam and Darjeeling, both well known teas and named after the areas they are grown in. Assam, northern, either side of the Bramputra River and Darjeeling, at the foot of the Himalayas. (At least 70% of their tea is actually consumed by India.)

Indonesia: Java and Sumatra their teas; soft and subtle.

Kenya:  East and West of the Highlands, strong and spicy.

Sri Lanka: the teas can be strong or light, depending on where they are grown.

Well it is the start to my journey, sharing my knowledge as I learn and most of all appreciating, not just the tea but where it came from and the history that travels with it.

To the pleasure of Tea!

Michele

(My sources for above information about tea: Wikipedia and UK Tea & Infusions Association).

12 Replies to “The History of Tea”

  1. That is interesting, how the tea came about. An accidentally event that mark the beginning of this delicious drink. 

    I am surprised that tea used to be such a precious commodity, and people even used to smuggling it. While nowadays it is a common drink that everyone can afford. 

    Thank you for showing us the history of tea! 

    1. Yes  intriguing isn’t it, I’m looking into and researching  the rituals of tea now and the history behind them.

      Thank you for your comments, Grace.

      Michele

  2. This is a very informative review, I love the fact that I came across this post, I really never knew the origin of tea until now. It is indeed very fascinating. This post has done a lovely job exploring the complex history of the universal drink, this is surely an informative plunge into tea’s history. 

    1. Thank you Seun,

      It is  a very  colourful  history isn’t it and really so much more to research and enjoy the journey of the search, into this beautiful beverage.

      Michele

  3. What an interesting story about tea. It is very facinating that only the rich could drink at one time and now it is available and affordable to everyone.I am not a big tea drinker myself, I love my coffee in the morning but my yougest daugther who is almost 18 loves to drink several cups of tea a day. Everytime I make a coffee she makes herself a tea.

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for reading and commenting on The History of Tea. 

      Our tea has had a fascinating journey, hasn’t it?

      Michele

  4. I have really enjoyed your article about the History of Tea.

    I was a bit aware of the story about a Chinese Emperor having a leave fallen into his  water cup.

    Tea for me is essential to my daily life. I drink it each and every day and I also love the variety of it.

    If you live in a bigger city you also might have access to a tea and spice shop where you can get fresh loose tea leaves, which I actually do prefer more than tea in bags, and also get other tea accessories.

    I do miss it living in the countryside. However, I still will get good tea brands in one of my local grocery shops and this is all I need.

    Thank you for sharing the information appreciated.

    1. Hi Sylvia,

      Thank you for reading and commenting on my post, The History of Tea.

      I enjoy both loose tea and tea bags, depending on the time I have to enjoy my beautiful cuppa and yes the variety of teas out there is just amazing! 

      Love it, Michele

  5. Wow tea has an amazing history behind it! I love the saying the cream always rises to the top. With every country eventually becoming fascinated with the tea and the properties it possesses , it was only a matter of time for it to be a well known product. Thank you for the history lesson!

    1. Hi Cliff

      Thank you for reading and commenting on ‘The History of Tea’.

      It is so much fun researching history where ever your interests take you.

      Michele

  6. I’ve never given much thought about how tea came about LOL. And I definitely didn’t know about all these varieties but it’s good to know a little background. Though I’m not a tea lover myself, I do believe that some brews have some great medicinal purposes such as black and green tea. 

    1. Hi Tekyia,

      Yes there is this amazing colourful history about tea and the varieties are wonderful. I believe all the teas have beneficial qualities, some more than others, but all are a delight to sip and enjoy.

      Michele

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